What Happened To Whimsy?

Plant hope, grow courage; plant joy, grow whimsy; plant fear, grow weary. We become what we cultivate. – Bob Goff

Maintaining a sense of whimsy, surprise and silly is hard as a leader. Point leaders and entry level leaders alike often take our work very seriously. But that doesn’t mean we have to take ourselves so seriously. Think about it from your own perspective. We all want to be around people that can both do amazing things and enjoy life along the way. There isn’t some giant secret as to how to achieve this balance, it’s simply about authenticity.

Consider Bob Goff, who is coming to speak at Catalyst University in just a few days. Bob is known for his sense of whimsy. He will give strangers hugs or fill your office with balloons, and when he does everyone enjoys it because that is his authentic purpose. That is who Bob Goff is.


Why are we so drawn to someone like Bob?

Life can be tough; people need to be able to laugh together or we will not have permission to cry together. I know our team at Southwest Michigan First works hard, but that alone isn’t why we’ve found success. Imagine, if we all just kept our heads down and plowed the fields day in and day out, what would we have to live for? We spend about a third of our lives at our respective jobs. Sadly, for many people, the highlight of this work day is their lunch break or when the clock strikes 5:00 pm. That breaks my heart. After all, what kind of life is that?

Whimsy should be a part of our every day. Success needs to be celebrated! Teammates need to spend time together to learn about each other’s differences, experience unexpected joy and laugh – hard. It’s a leader’s job to cultivate an environment where that is not only allowed, but fostered and encouraged. Organizations often reflect the personality of their leader. A joyless CEO will most likely create a joyless organization.  I haven’t heard of many cases where long term success was created by people who were miserable.

In the end, you can buy people’s time for a short while, but you cannot buy their loyalty or commitment without embracing their humanity. Whimsy, joy and silly is just simply a function of humanity. Let’s embrace it in the workplace instead of squashing it.

{p.s. For more on personal whimsy, I encourage you to read Love Does by Bob Goff. For more on joy in the workplace, check out Joy Inc. by Richard Sheridan.}

Always Forward.

Question: Have you found a healthy balance between working hard and playing hard?